New York, London, Milan…Milwaukee? Sounds about right.
Wisconsin - my home state and first real love - is one of the world’s foremost fashion meccas; you just don’t know it yet. With my dad coming to nyc for a visit this weekend (Hi Dad! Fly safe!), I’m in a nostalgic mood for my old stomping grounds. So I thought I’d dig into any and all clothing brands based out of my beloved Cheese State. I found plenty, so read on, and show some sartorial respect for the Midwest.
Allen Edmonds - My dad swears by his Allen Edmonds shoes, and I can see why. They’re well-made, stylish and last forever (with the help of a re-soling every few years). They’re also based in Belgium, Wisconsin - a town so small I’d never even heard of it before looking it up on their website. Their factory is in Port Washington, a town most famous for being the home of Frank Lambert and Carol Foster’s step-clan on Step by Step. (or perhaps most famous only in my mind for that)
Land’s End - Land’s End is one of those Wisconsin things I took for granted growing up - along with high-quality cheese curds, friendly customer service and Michael’s Frozen Custard. But now I know I’m lucky to have grown up with their durable canvas bags, slim-fitting polos and hard-working footwear at such decent prices. Now with their Lands End Canvas heritage line, they’ve gotten more stylish, but still with the Midwesternly reasonable price points.
Shopbop - Most people don’t know that the only bricks-and-mortar store of this super-chic online women’s retailer can be found in none other than downtown Madison. So I feel compelled to educate them. It’s one thing having to tell people that, no, actually Madison’s a city, not a town, and beyond that, it’s the capital! (“Milwaukee’s not the capital?” “No.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.”) So I have my work cut out for me convincing people I didn’t grow up back-to-school shopping at Farm ‘n Fleet.
If you’re looking for something stylish for that special lady in your life, bop is a good first place to look.
Florsheim - Another men’s shoe brand on the list! This one, based in Glendale, Wisconsin. *Full disclaimer, I’m a total snob for being from Wisconsin, because I’ve never heard of - let alone been to - most of these towns. But I find it useful geographic knowledge nonetheless...
I stopped in their pop-up store in Soho the other day and made the sales guy a little uncomfortable with my lusting over the brand’s rad Duckie Brown capsule collection (there may have been an inappropriate amount of “ooohing” on my part).
Eastbay - Eastbay was my jam back in high school. I especially love the company’s humble roots - it was originally founded to serve the performance needs of local high school and college athletes just in Central Wisconsin. Eventually, the venture grew into a worldwide direct mail catalog and internet sales conglomerate featuring all the top athletic brands.
Jockey - That underwear you’re wearing right now? There’s a good chance it started life as an elastic waistband and a dream in Kenosha, Wisconsin. You’re welcome.
Kohl’s - Yes, this is a store, not a brand, but it did spring from the mind of retiring Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, so I say it counts. I don’t think we have Kohls’ in New York, so I love hitting up the department store chain when I go home for a visit.
For me, there’s diffusion lines from the likes of Lauren Conrad and Vera Wang. For the fellas, there’s great athletic wear and a good one-stop shop for stocking up on basics like go-under-everything tees and Levi’s jeans. And as of 2010, it was listed #135 on the Fortune 500. Take that, Indiana. (I don’t know what I have against Indiana…)
New Glarus Brewing Company - Okay, this company’s product qualifies more as a must-have accessory. In Wisconsin, don’t be seen with anything other than the husband and wife team’s Spotted Cow in your hand.
In conclusion, Wisconsin is the greatest place. In the world. Ever.
Got any hometown (or state) pride in your own home state grown brands? Tell me, and I’ll tweet ‘em!